Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

30 Transforming thankfulness – Part 3

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Colossians 3:15-17

15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

After instructing us to let the peace of Christ rule and the message of Christ fill our lives, Paul now reminds us to represent Jesus well. Not only is a thankful heart one where Christ’s peace is in control and His word is overflowing but it’s also where:

  • Christ’s name is lifted up

“And whatever you do or say” this includes everything, from our jobs to our parenting, to our driving on the roads. It includes both our walk and our talk. “do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus” Do it means every part of everything that we do, from the mundane and those things that don’t seem to matter to those that we think are monumental.  Because we are not just doing it for self or for the sake of getting it done, we are doing it as a representative of the Lord Jesus. Our attitudes and actions are an advertisement for the Almighty. How we live is a reflection on the Redeemer. What you do and how you do it will color what people think of Christ. How many have walked away from Christ because of His church, because our witness didn’t match our words? Are you representing Him right, does your public life match your private life? Are you revealing His righteousness? Are you modeling His mercy? Are you living out His love and Forgiveness? Are you reflecting holiness or hypocrisy? It’s here that Paul again calls us to give thanks, this time he calls us to focus our thanks on the Father. Living a life of thanks lifts His name a little higher. But it’s not just His name that is lifted but also our eyes, because thanking the Father causes us to look up and have an upward focus. But this upward focus is not from a position of pride but one of praise. While our head is turned upward in wonder our heart is bowed in worship. Our thanks flows from the realization that it is God who has bless us and granted us good gifts. James 1:17 reminds us that “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.” When was the last time you thanked God for His good gifts? Giving thanks to God is not just a vocal thing, it involves all of us and how we live our lives. Your life is God’s gift to you, but what you do with it is your gift back to God. Not only do we look up but we also need to look around as we give thanks to God. When was the last time you marvel at the majesty of His creation? When was the last time you payed attention to breathing in the blessing of the fresh morning air? When was the last time you smelled the dew on the dirt or the rain soaking into the soil and simply said thanks?  Are you taking His gifts for granted or are you grateful? When we take the time to look around us at His creation we are confronted by His bountiful blessings.  Many times, when we are depressed or despondent, it’s because we are only looking in one direction at one thing and at one time of our life. We get fixated on the problems instead of the praise. Take sometime today to look around and see what God has done as well as what He is doing. Count your blessings, soak them in and sing them out. Looking around forces us to be outward, are you struggling to find something to be thankful for? Then try looking outward and seeing those who have greater needs than you. Paying attention to other people can put our problems into perspective, when we see their trials our troubles don’t seem as big. Not only will our sorrows seem smaller but they will also seem fewer. Mother Theresa once told the story of ministering to an old woman dying from starvation: “One evening we went out, and we picked up four people from the street. And one of them was in a most terrible condition. I told the sisters, ‘You take care of the other three; I will take care of the one who looks worst.’ So I did for her all that my love could do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand as she said two words only: ‘Thank you.’ Then she died. I could not help but examine my conscience before her. And I asked: ‘What would I say if I were in her place?’ And my answer was very simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said, ‘I am hungry, I am dying, I am in pain,’ or something. But she gave me much more; she gave me her grateful love. And she died with a smile on her face. That is the way I want to die, regardless of my circumstances, not with whining and whimpering, not with complaining and bitterness of spirit, but with gratitude on my lips. If I am able to do this, it will bring a smile not only to my face, but to the face of God. Instead of getting caught up in complaining and wasting our energy on griping what if we were to extend a helping hand. Thanksgiving causes us to reach out, to be the hands and feet of Jesus touching others with His truth as we seek to bring them into His blessings. Thanksgiving causes us to trade our grumbling for gratitude, it turns our weeping into worship and our junk into joy. It’s as we look outward and see the needs of others that we realize what God has done inwardly in our lives. Those inward changes that have occurred in our character. These cause us to boldly look beyond to see past just the gift and to see the giver. Growing up like many kids Christmas was a special time for me, filled with excitement and anticipation over the gifts beneath the tree. When it was time to open them I rambunctiously ripped them all open, but in my haste I forgot to take the time to read the cards and tags tied to them telling me who the gift was from. The problem was that I got so wrapped up in the gift that I forgot about the giver. True thankfulness looks beyond the gift and sees the giver. It’s the lesson we learn from the one leper in Luke 17 who came back to thank Jesus, he looked beyond the gift of his healing to see the heart and hand of Jesus. The other nine were so wrapped up in the gift of healing that they forgot about the healer. As great as God’s gifts are their purpose is never to take His place but to point us to Him.  The greatest gift is not what God does for us; the greatest gift is God Himself. Have you gotten caught up in the gift or are you concentrating on the Giver? You may not believe that thanksgiving can be transforming, that having a heart full of thanks will change your life, but don’t take my word for it try it for yourself. Here is my challenge to you, for one week whatever happens in your life, find something in that situation for which you can give thanks. Find something to be thankful for each day and then express your thanks, tell those who have contributed to your thankfulness.  Don’t hold your thanks inside let it spill over in your speech, because your attitude of gratitude won’t just transform you it will transform your world. So let me start by saying thank you to God for the gift of writing. Three and a half years ago I started a journey with Jesus, the goal was to grown in God and to journal my journey. I set out to write a 365 day devotional, for my family both biological and biblical. Years from now or may be tomorrow, when I am no longer here but living with the Lord, I want to be a witness to a world in which I no longer live. I want to leave my family with a spiritual heritage, I want them to know my story, a story about out my Savior. So for three and a half years twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday morning I have posted a devotion, my walk through the Word, my time in the garden with God. There were weeks when I wondered how or when I would have the time to write, but the Father was always faithful. This devotional is my gift, a gift given to me by my God, a God who is not only great but One filled with grace and goodness. For those who have followed this journey, thank you for your faithfulness. My prayer is that you have been challenged to walk deeper with God and that your heart has been changed by His hand. Know that this is not the end of the blog just a milestone in the journey.

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